In 2015, the PBA added 15 other legends to its original list of the 25 Greatest Players of All-Time. At the time, many people were surprised by the inclusion of players that were still active. Guys like Jayson Castro, Marc Pingris and Jimmy Alapag were included in the list. But though they were already considered shoo-ins once they retired (as Alapag has since), many argued that there were a lot of legends who were left out.
To recall, during the league's 25th anniversary in 2000, a committee named these players the 25 greatest of all time:
Johnny Abarrientos, Bogs Adornado, Ato Agustin, Francis Arnaiz, Ricky Brown, Allan Caidic, Hector Calma, Philip Cezar, Atoy Co, Jerry Codiñera, Kenneth Duremdes, Bernie Fabiosa, Ramon Fernandez, Danny Florencio, Abet Guidaben, Freddie Hubalde, Robert Jaworski, Jojo Lastimosa, Lim Eng Beng, Samboy Lim, Ronnie Magsanoc, Vergel Meneses, Manny Paner, Alvin Patrimonio, and Benjie Paras.
Fifteen years later during the 40th anniversary, these 15 players were added:
Jimmy Alapag, Marlou Aquino, Mark Caguioa, Jayson Castro, Jayjay Helterbrand, Danny Ildefonso, Chito Loyzaga, Eric Menk, Willie Miller, Marc Pingris, Kerby Raymundo, Arwind Santos, Asi Taulava, Kelly Williams, and James Yap.
Five years have passed since the list was revealed, and since this year is the 45th anniversary of the PBA, we thought, "Which players could be added to a hypothetical 45 Greatest PBA Players?" For a task as difficult as this, there will always be tough cuts. So let's see first if we can identify worthy nominees. In this first of two parts, we came up with a shortlist. In the second part, we'll reveal our final five.
Missed The Top 40
The Résumé: 17 seasons, 820 games, 7 championships, 2 BPCs, 12,268 points (5th all-time), 4,469 rebounds, 1,336 assists
During his peak, few players were as electrifying, and polarizing as The Bull. He was fearless attacking the rim, using his massive hands to finish over and around defenders that were in his way. He was also never shy about taking over on offense, as his gaudy point totals show. Asaytono was one of the biggest omissions in the Top 40 list- it may be time to rectify that.
The Résumé: 18 seasons, 782 games, 13 championships, 7,851 points, 6,222 rebounds, 580 blocks
The Chairman Of The Boards was one of the most decorated players in PBA history, winners of 13 championships in a career that spanned over three decades. At the time of his retirement, he finished as one of only eight players to amass over 5,000 rebounds, an example of his relentless spirit despite playing in the shadow of more high-profile teammates in Toyota.
The Résumé: 15 seasons, 548 games, 8 championships, 4 Finals MVPs, 2 BPCs
If there was one player who would have been a shoo-in on this list, it's Danny Seigle. But injuries plagued him when he reached his peak, and it cut short a career that was on a trajectory few could reach. However his résumé still speaks for itself, and his highlights are still talked about and watched on YouTube to this day.
The Résumé: 18 seasons, 925 games, 10 championships, 925 games (4th all-time), 7,257 points, 1,763 rebounds, 3,085 assists (10th all-time)
The engine that ran those beastly San Miguel teams of the late 90's and early '00s, Racela rarely attracted any attention or flair with his game. But 10 championships later, and Olsen is still regarded as a model point guard still studied to this day.
The Résumé: 14 seasons, 613 games, 1 PBA Grand Slam, 10 championships, 1 Finals MVP, 8,238 points, 4,119 rebounds, 1,715 assists
With several members of Alaska's championship teams (Johnny Abarrientos, Jojo Lastimosa, Kenneth Duremdes) on the list, there were bound to be fellow Aces left on the cutting room floor. Two of them make this list. Let's begin with Bong Hawkins, who was such a matchup nightmare because of his ability to bring down the floor and run the offense despite being the team's power forward. He was basically the blueprint that point forwards like Joe Devance and Beau Belga are compared to today. The Hawk helped turn the Milkmen from a perennial contender to a dynasty.
13 seasons, 692 games, 9 championships, 9,430 points (19th all-time), 2,262 assists (21st all-time)
Arnie Tuadles was known as one of the most creative scorers in the early years of the PBA, with twisting drives and "kontra-tiyempo" attacks to the rim confusing defenders who tried to slow him down. At one point, he held the record for most number of assists in a game, notching 23 dimes when Ginebra took on Great Taste in 1985. His signature game came in the deciding Game 7 of the 1990 All-Filipino Conference Finals, when he stepped up in Allan Caidic's absence to power Presto past heavily favored Purefoods by dropping 33 points in a 19-point rout. Tuadles' life ended tragically, but he is definitely deserving of inclusion here.
15 seasons, 686 games, 1 PBA Grand Slam, 9 championships, 1 Finals MVP, 1 BPC, 8,953 points, 3,054 rebounds, 2,074 assists
Jeffrey Cariaso is the other star from those legendary teams that didn't make the cut because of the reason stated above. But during his heyday, "The Jet" was one of the most athletic and exciting players to watch in the PBA. A member of championship teams with Alaska and Mobiline, Cariaso found success wherever he went because his game fit any style of offense.
13 seasons, PBA All-Time Leader for consecutive games played, 5 championships, 3 Finals MVPs, 1 BPC
When all is said and done, people might be surprised by just how brilliant LA Tenorio's career in the PBA is. The most important milestone he's achieved is definitely the all-time consecutive games record achieved late last season, meaning Tenorio has been a fixture in our lives for three decades. One of the most reliable and clutch guards in PBA history, Tenorio undoubtedly deserves consideration.
June Mar Fajardo
7 seasons, 8 championships, 6 PBA MVPs, 8 BPCs
If Fajardo is unable to play another game for the rest of his career, even that wouldn't stop him from making the upcoming list. Of all the players mentioned here, The Kraken is the most sure thing. An unprecedented run of six straight MVPs, as well as eight championships in only seven seasons is definitely GOAT worthy. The rest of the players on this list are competing for only four slots. You'll definitely see the Kraken in the next five.
Ranidel De Ocampo
15 seasons, 6 championships, 2 Finals MVPs, 2 BPCs
Ranidel De Ocampo may not have had the eye-popping athleticism of Jayson Castro, nor the gravitas of Jimmy Alapag, but what he did bring to the table was reliable, elite production in every single game he played in. RDO was a stretch 4 in the purest form, able to space the floor for the legendary Talk 'N Text duo of Castro and Alapag to operate. And when they needed a bucket, De Ocampo was more than able to create one with his underrated post-up game. De Ocampo's career might have slowed down as of late because of injuries, but that doesn't dilute his legacy in any way, shape or form.
14 seasons, 9 championships, 1 Finals MVP, 6th All-time in assists
A proven performer in the clutch, Alex Cabagnot reinvigorated his career in the past five years, as the San Miguel dynasty continues to chug along. But even before this run, Cabagnot was already able to taste success, winning the title in 2011 with the Petron Blaze Boosters. His pick and roll combination with June Mar Fajardo has been one of the most devastating 1-2 punches in the decade, and he's continuing to climb the ladder in the all-time assists category.